Categories
Adventure Books Fiction Science Fiction

Mercury in Retrograde by Merethe Walther (Full Review)

Mercury in Retrograde by Merethe Walther starts you on an interplanetary journey that will thrill you until the very last page.

writerwerx mrecury in retrograde by merethe walther

The Mercury in Retrograde Story

Mercury in Retrograde follows the story of Aralyn Solari a short while after she’s been released from a mega-prison called Tartarys. Having served her time for running (trafficking illegal goods), she finds herself offered an opportunity for one last job. The payout means she’ll never have to run again and can live out the rest of her life in peace. As an added bonus, she was given the job by Eladia, someone who saved Aralyn’s life while she was imprisoned, so it seems like a good way to repay that kindness. Do the job, get paid, live happily ever after. 

If only things were that simple for our heroine! 

  • The job goes all wrong, including her buyer not showing up as promised and sending someone to plant drugs on Aralyn so she’ll get arrested (again). 
  • She’s temporarily detained by her ex-boyfriend (now in a position to arrest her since he’s joined the outer space police force known as the UDA) who she hasn’t seen since they were both caught running contraband. She gets sent to prison, he gets a new job. Something’s not right here and it is KEY to untangling the nonsense that follows Aralyn all throughout the book. 
  • The object that Aralyn’s buyer was supposed to be purchasing from her is stolen after her ship is ransacked. 

All this makes for a great story by itself, but when you realize that you’ve covered all of these plot points and you haven’t even reached the third chapter, you know you’re in for a long, wild ride! 

What You’ll Love About This Book

There is plenty to unpack with Mercury in Retrograde, so anyone looking for a thick volume to sink their mental teeth into will be pleased. Everything that kick-started the story is embedded in the ending and makes the plot feel whole and mostly resolved. There are lots of moments that will make you cringe (descriptions of the daily traumas that take place at Tartarys), scream in frustration (characters doing idiotic things that make you want to shake their teeth out of their head), and laugh (from nerdy quips to comical circumstances). 

And through it all, the underlying story of Caden and Aralyn’s romantic relationship ebbs and flows. Will they rekindle their old bond, or will the betrayal and resentment Aralyn feels toward him be too much? Was Caden actually the one who sold her out, or is there more to the story? How couldn’t Caden be the one who betrayed her if he didn’t serve a day in prison and ended up on the other side of the law? 

Merethe Walther keeps the adventure spinning paragraph after paragraph to hold a reader’s attention across all 445 pages. 

What You’ll Struggle With

There were some noticeable problems with wording and grammar, almost as though the book hadn’t been (or had been poorly) line edited or copy edited. For the average reader, I’m not sure these things would make much of a difference. For those who do notice, the book is still worth the read, just brace yourself for some of what you’ll come across. For example, “standing to her feet” (as opposed to standing to her ankles or standing to her knees?) made an appearance more than once. As well as phrases such as “tens of hundreds” (thousands?) and “carrying a small suitcase of luggage behind him” (no, the suitcase was not filled with other suitcases, if that’s what you’re thinking). 

You’ll also run into a few places where the intelligence and resolve that it would have taken to survive a terror like Tartarys seems to just vanish from Aralyn’s persona. For instance, there is a scene in which Aralyn is in a Tartarys cell and has something CRITICAL hidden in her boot. Yet, when a prisoner she doesn’t trust sidles up to the cell, she remains in her position, the special boot toward him. So, even though the scene is written as though him stealing what’s in her boot is sudden or surprising, I knew exactly what was about to happen because she let him so close to her precious cargo. It would seem that, if she had spent so much time in Tartarys around a throng of highly untrustworthy people, she would have switched to a different position immediately after he came into view or put more distance between them.

Periodically, there are errors in logic that pop up as well. So, if this is some kind of pet peeve for you, be aware that they’re coming up. Using the same scene as an example, the thieving prisoner is somehow able to (1) reach into the cell, (2) grab Aralyn’s booted foot, (3) pry the boot off of Aralyn’s foot, and (4) pull the boot through to his side of the bars as the cell door automatically slams shut for the night, all before she can kick his hand away, fight him off, or pull her boot out of his grasp. This scene left me with a lot of little questions about the characters and the circumstances (Just how big is he? How light is Aralyn? Why would she lift her foot off of the ground to allow him the leverage he needed to get the boot off? Does the boot not have sufficient laces to the point that he could slide it off with no problem?), but don’t hinder your reading experience much. 

IN THE END

Overall, I give Mercury in Retrograde 4.5 stars. Be aware of the bumps in the copy, but don’t be deterred from starting this exhilarating series!

writerwerx book review rubric
Tenesha L. Curtis
Tenesha L. Curtis

Indie author and book editor at Volo Press Books.

Categories
Adventure Books Fiction Science Fiction

Mercury in Retrograde by Merethe Walther (Review Snippet)

Mercury in Retrograde by Merethe Walther starts you on an interplanetary journey that will thrill you until the very last page.

writerwerx mrecury in retrograde by merethe walther

The Mercury in Retrograde Story

Mercury in Retrograde follows the story of Aralyn Solari a short while after she’s been released from a mega-prison called Tartarys. Having served her time for running (trafficking illegal goods), she finds herself offered an opportunity for one last job. The payout means she’ll never have to run again and can live out the rest of her life in peace. As a bonus, she was given the job by Eladia, someone who saved Aralyn’s life while she was imprisoned, so it seems like a good way to repay that kindness. Do the job, get paid, live happily ever after. 

If only things were that simple for our heroine! 

  • The job goes all wrong, including her buyer not showing up as promised and sending someone to plant drugs on Aralyn so she’ll get arrested (again). 
  • She’s temporarily detained by her ex-boyfriend who she hasn’t seen since they were both caught running contraband. She gets sent to prison, he gets a new job. Something’s not right here and it is KEY to untangling the nonsense that follows Aralyn all throughout the book. 
  • The object that Aralyn’s buyer was supposed to be purchasing from her is stolen after her ship is ransacked. 

All this makes for a great story by itself, but when you realize that you’ve covered all of these plot points and you haven’t even reached the third chapter, you know you’re in for a long, wild ride! 

IN THE END

Overall, I give Mercury in Retrograde 4.5 stars. Be aware of the bumps in the copy, but don’t be deterred from starting this exhilarating series!

WRITERWERX MEMBERS: Read the full review here!

Tenesha L. Curtis
Tenesha L. Curtis

Indie author and book editor at Volo Press Books.

Categories
Books Fiction

Burden of Solace by Richard L. Wright

Burden of Solace by Richard L. Wright

Burden of Solace by Richard L. Wright brings a refreshing depth, balanced with candid humor, to superhero fiction. A book that makes you feel anything beyond boredom is noteworthy, but Burden of Solace made me laugh as much as it made me reflect on how humans treat one another.

The Burden of Solace Story

Burden of Solace highlights the Emergence (activation of super powers) of Dr. Cassie Whalen, a trauma surgeon working in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia. She’s been living up to high expectations her entire life, even before the death of her saint-like parents (two doctors), and has developed a temper and brazenness that brings her toe-to-toe with invulnerable super-humans and government officials alike.

She Emerges when she’s attacked by a random woman while out for a jog. Her penchant for helping and healing others manifests itself as the ability to mend virtually any wound in a matter of seconds with a simple touch. She struggles with not wanting the abilities because she wants a normal life, and exohumans live anything but. They are monitored and regulated by the government. Some are locked away, others are allowed to be servants for the public, like Nate Gorman, also known as “Guardian 175.”

The plot revolves around four main issues:

•  Cassie’s internal struggle regarding not wanting her gift, wanting to help people, and not wanting to become a federal slave all at the same time.

•  An arrogant billionaire, Ballentine, who is trying to make sure the exohumans like the ones who killed his family are kept under tight control.

•  Nate falling in love with Cassie while he shields her from government detection, even as he disapproves of her attempts to get rid of her healing powers.

•  Legislative issues related to exohuman rights and freedoms.

Burden of Solace Highlights

I chuckled at the situations that Cassie got herself into as she learned more about her regenerative gifts. At one point healing the crotch of a man she kicked in the balls, at another finding herself floating in mid-air for the better part of a day because she couldn’t control her levitation.

Much of the narrative language was comical as well. A few examples include:

•   “…a timeless archetype meant to grab female psyches by their damp panties”

•  “whole-body butt-clench”

•  “His pancreas might be upside down.”

•  “…she could sense his disgust like a sour fart in the room.”


There are several moments throughout the book that characters share that are clever, heartwarming, and hilarious. For example, when Nate finds Cassie hovering aimlessly acres above the ground, he doesn’t mind taking in the view of this beautiful woman suspended in front of him in a “too-short” dress. It was amusing to experience the growing intimacy in the relationship between Cassie and Nate: from learning his real name, to trusting him with her dangerous secret, to letting him guide her superpower training, to partnering with him to defeat their common enemy.

In Burden of Solace, Wright has put a mirror up to society by reaching into the past (and, some would say, the present), when US citizens were put into internment camps, lynched, or denied their constitutional rights by a government and populace devoid of understanding and overwhelmed with anxiety. This socio-political issue is one that could be an example of what many people who have experienced any number of ‘isms’ have to deal with throughout their lives. Reading as Cassie and Nate navigated personal and bureaucratic mine fields together made it easy to become emotionally invested in the characters and what they were going through personally, professionally, and politically. Nate has a sense of duty that is impressive, even more so when we find out that this sense is not inflexible, but still strong. Cassie’s essence can be accurately expressed in one of my favorite lines in the book: “Big, strong soldiers are trained to combat a lot of things, but tiny, redheaded spitfires are not among them.”

Burden of Solace Shortcomings

Burden of Solace wasn’t as invulnerable as Nate Gorman. However, what flaws there were to be found did not take away from the plot. I’m sure that, should the author choose to refresh the content at some point in the future, these minor issues would be corrected. There were about eleven grammatical mistakes that I noticed as a casual reader (a misplaced comma here, a missing word there), and some repetition (the word ‘smile’ three times in two sentences), but nothing that kept me from enjoying the story. Unless you have raucous OCD about grammar, it shouldn’t be a major issue for your either.

Burden of Solace Grade: A

I’d give Burden of Solace a solid ‘A’ grade. Great story, engaging characters (especially Etienne!), and an ending the leaves the audience satisfied, hopeful, and intrigued simultaneously.

If you enjoy superhero tales even the tiniest bit, the romance, mystery, intrigue, and action in Burden of Solace will leave you as eager as I am for the next installment!

—Tenesha L. Curtis

Book Link: https://amzn.to/2Bq0mfD

Categories
Books Books Fiction Nonfiction

How to Write a Book Premise

A book premise serves you throughout the writing process and works for just about any genre (a notable exclusion might be poetry).

In a single sentence you can outline the core of your book. This helps you focus on your central plot in fiction and stick to your main content in nonfiction. The formula is a simple one that works for memoirs, mysteries, self-help, children’s books, screenplays, and more: 

[somebody] wants [something] but, in order to get it, they have to overcome [some obstacle(s)].


For example:

[Red] wants [to deliver food and medicine to her grandmother’s house on the other side of the village] but in order to do that, she has to overcome [a wild, hungry wolf].

In this sentence, we know who are central character is, what they’re major goal is, and what’s standing between where they are now and where they want to be. 

More examples:

I wanted to become a doctor, but I had to overcome poverty, low academic achievement, and cancer in order to do so. [memoir]

Evelyn wants to solve her husband’s murder, but she’ll have to fight a corrupt judicial system, a two-faced detective, and her own inner demons to get his justice. [mystery / thriller]

Busy people want to write a book, but they have to manage their time, reset how they think about authorship, and bounce back from set backs if they’re ever going to succeed [self-help (The 12-Month Manuscript in specific! 😉)]

Lana wants to go on the school field trip, but she has to figure out how to get her parents’ permission since she forgot her permission slip at home and the bus leaves in ten minutes! [children’s book].



Once you’ve come up with a general idea of what you want to write about, this is the next step in solidifying your concept so you can start your outline / manuscript.

Can my book / screenplay premise involve more than one character, goal, or obstacle?

Absolutely. Some pieces are hyper-complex, to the point that if you start reading more than five pages in you’ll be completely confused. However, keep in mind that the more variables you put into play for the story, the more variables you have to manage. Increasing the number of characters, goals, and obstacles also increases the likelihood that you’ll develop plot holes. In most cases, having one of each is just fine and will be less headache for you as an author.



Can my book premise 
*gasp* CHANGE?!?!

Of course. It’s yours, after all. As you come up with new ideas, write yourself into a corner, etc. you’re able to make changes to everything from who the main character is to the kinds of obstacles standing between them and their goals. The premise is a living “document” in a sense.

If you keep up with your premise and update it as you make changes, you’ll have a carefully prepared tagline for your book that you can use on the back cover, at the top of your book description, or (if going the commercial publishing route) in your query letter.